Quirky London Museums

Our pick of London's more eccentric museums and attractions.

London is full of wonderfully quirky museums and bizarre historic collections.

These unique London museums offer an ideal way to discover lesser-known artefacts, learn more about the history of the stranger sides of London, and to delve into some the city's peculiar corners. Where else in the world can you find a museum dedicated to a fictional character, as if he were real; a model of Tower Bridge made from matchsticks; and a museum dedicated solely to fans?

Anaesthesia Heritage Centre

You'll be knocked out by the 2,000 objects related to anaesthesia at London's unusual Anaesthesia Heritage Centre! Whether you're an anaesthetist or just curious, the collection dating from 1774 to the present day provides an absorbing story and historical account of advancements in medicine and pain relief. Free entry

Brunel Museum

On the site of the Thames Tunnel, The Brunel Museum showcases the work of famous engineers Marc Isambard Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Among the objects on display are drawings, watercolours and engravings of the pioneering tunnelling project as well as artefacts from the Fancy Fairs that took place there.

The Cartoon Museum

Anyone who loves comics like The Beano, The Dandy and Topper is sure to enjoy Bloomsbury's Cartoon Museum. Opened in 2006, this small museum is dedicated to preserving British cartoons, comics and animation from early Punch to current favourites like Giles and Steve Bell. Plus there's fun, interactive activities for kids.

Ripley's Believe It or Not!

Explore the weird and wonderful at Ripley's Believe It or Not! in the heart of London's West End. Ripley's contains more than 700 artefacts that celebrate the beautiful and the bizarre. The London museum features a life-sized knitted Ferrari, an 8ft Transformer, a mirror maze and the Impossible Laser Race.  

Dennis Severs House

Enter a time capsule in Dennis Severs' House in East London. You'll wander silently through an 18th-century house, lit by fires and candlelight, and absorb the sounds, sights and smells of a "recently abandoned" family home. The house's 10 rooms create 10 different pictures thanks to artist Dennis Severs' incredible work.  

Fan Museum

One of London's most unusal museums, the Fan Museum is home to the world's finest collection of fans, dating from the 11th century to the present day. Housed in a pair of restored 18th-century houses, this surprising museum also features a Japanese garden and spectacular orangery with a gorgeous mural and fascinating gift shop.

Kirkaldy Testing Museum

A must for anyone with a love of machines and engineering. Opened in 1874 as David Kirkaldy’s Testing & Experimenting Works, his 116-ton ‘universal testing machine’ still works and was used to test materials’ strength for bridges, locomotives, ships, airliners and more. Open on the first Sunday of each month.   

Magic Circle Museum

There's more than a rabbit in a hat and never-ending coloured handkerchiefs at the Magic Circle Museum. See some of the magic world's most important memorabilia including handcuffs used by Harry Houdini and props used by HRH Prince of Wales during his induction into the mysterious Magic Circle. By appointment only.

Old Operating Theatre

This is a real one off – the only remaining 19th-century operating theatre in England, which sits at the top of an old church. Inside, you can watch demonstrations of surgical techniques and volunteer to be "operated on". The smells emanating from the herb garret (originally used to store and cure medicinal herbs) just add to the atmosphere.

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum, a Grade II-listed lodging house on Baker Street which has been furnished as the apartment of Conan Doyle's famous fictional detective and his friend Doctor Watson. The museum features waxworks, Victorian ephemera and a very popular gift shop selling Sherlock Holmes collectibles and novelty items.

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